My COVID Stories: My 2020 So Far

Prelude to Quarantine

For three years, I have kept this kind of journal. These contain pictures of the highlights of my year.

I have allocated the same type for this year but it is currently empty. I hope to find time to fill them with pictures.

This year, I upped the ante by writing more. I finally used the journal a friend gave me after I hoarded 2 more from a trip. So I am probably good for 2 more years of journal pages. I wrote this in December 31, 2019 to welcome 2020:

For 2020, I hope to fill my days with art, conversations, laughter and ideas. May I have moments of peace where I can listen to my heart, listen to God and just be. I hope to stay healthy and be a friend and family to the people around me. Life may not have given me longer time with my own family but I do get to spend time with the ones I have left. (Something wrong with the sentence but that’s what I wrote. I need an editor. hahaha) It is amazing how people form (become) part of my life through the years and I am glad with the ones I met along the way. I am looking forward to more fulfilling and purposeful life. May I live with intent and love. Goodbye 2019 and hello 2020!

I still have bad penmanship.

Funny how I never mentioned travel, how I wrote about moments of peace, being healthy and living with intent. And I now realize that the intention was just to stay alive.

This is what nine months of writing looks like. Yeah, not only do I write for a living, I also made it a hobby.  Grammar, be damned.  As if I don’t have enough hobbies to begin with. Full-time hobbyist, part-time worker.

As much as I enjoyed being at home, I looked through my photos before the pandemic and there were many things I did early this year that I surely missed. These are something I look forward to doing again when this COVID-19 pandemic is over.

I almost forgot it was only this year that I went to a fiesta with friends, had a Chinese New Year’s party , singles’ valentine’s party with cousins and met up with friends.

I got to hug these kids. I can’t now.

I miss my nephew, Adi. I browsed through my phone. I did not get to see him this year.

I never thought last February was the last time that, in maybe a long while, I get to fly for leisure…

… and travel for work.

The Quarantine Life

Things changed in March. Supposedly, I had a full schedule. I made a fuss about it in one of my projects. Then the pandemic happened and, boom, I was cooped up at home. While art and gardening helped me manage my anxiety, adjusting to life in quarantine has it ups and downs. I take it one day at the time.

I was supposed to spend the onset of summer in Dinagat with friends. I did not even get to meet them anymore but they sure know how to make me happy. They made sure I get my pasalubong nevertheless.

Then, there was the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Just outside my gate, there was a barricade. No one can pass this side of the street. Well, except me, since they placed it before my gate. But if you know me, I do not go out unless it is my schedule to do essential stuff.

I wore mask and sunglasses whenever I go out. The streets then were almost empty (unlike today). I usually go to the grocery to buy food.

I try to keep my small pantry stocked. I am not really a hoarder. Maybe because I live in the middle of the city surrounded with food supplies. I can always take a quick trip to buy essentials twice a week.

This is my quarantine pass. I can do my errands twice a week. However, it is really such a hassle to go out.

I do not like wearing masks. It is suffocating for me. It is much more difficult now that we are required to wear a face shield.

I do my errands as quickly as I can. Prolonged wearing of face masks makes me tired. I usually just rest after an errand because it is so tiring. My middle-aged body calls for a rest. Just two hours of errand and I would be in my bed the rest of the day. So many wasted time. But didn’t I wish for moments of peace in 2020? This is the universe granting my wish. Ha! I know someday when we are back to the daily grind, I would look back at these days where I could just rest as I please.

Yes, staying at home is a way better option for me. I acknowledge that I may belong to the privileged few that can manage to stay at home. I am thankful for that. I pray for those who uncomfortably work full-time with mask and shield on.

I am thankful that I can work from home. My work entailed documenting seminars and other capacity building activities and these had shifted online via different web conferencing platforms. I used my parents’ old room as work area. I get the privacy I needed and this room has air-conditioning.

Not a fancy setup.

I have chosen this space so as not to cause mishaps like somebody passing behind my back while on videocall. I made sure there was a wall behind me.

I also made sure not to set it up in my own room where I get dressed. I read too many stories about those who did not turn off their cameras and ended up in a viral video in a bad way.

I have set aside my lounge pants for online meetings. No mishaps from me! But crazy old me still exists. I have enough lounge-y pants in my closet that I have not worn denims since the start of the quarantine. I should try to wear jeans again just to check if they still fit.

I stopped wearing makeup because no matter how fresh I feel. I looked like I am fresh out of bed on the screen. Let’s blame my 7-year-old laptop, shall we?

One of the things that kept me sane in this pandemic is that I have to walk these two twice a day. That is my exercise. I read we need Vitamin D every day so I get mine by walking and by gardening. Since I avoid hugging people, I am happy I have these two to hug.

I have refused to attend gatherings even if my relatives said there are only “a few of us”. In my head, I counted the possible few. I felt that (if my math was right) the number of people and area of their house defy social distancing rules.-not to mention being in an enclosed air-conditioned space with masks off, sharing of meals, laughter and chitchatting. I can imagine the saliva flying in the air and how easy it is to spread some deadly disease. No thanks. This is how I put my mathematics degree to practice. Hahaha I try to calculate things in my head and roll my eyes. I say no to gatherings and spare everyone of my anxiety.

I do understand how some people may be tired of following the protocols and just want to live their life the way the want to save their sanity. I am tired, too, but I still want to live so I wear my mask, wash my hands, practice social distancing and go out only for essentials. We have different ways to cope. I always follow the “Better be safe than sorry” route. And if for some reason, I catch the disease after doing all the possible precautions, I will try my best to live to tell the tale.

Even if I missed all the gatherings, I always keep in touch online. I enjoy the videocalls to family, high school classmates, friends and college roommates. I’ll just blur their faces because I am too lazy to message each one of them that I am posting their photos.

I also have my daily updates from friends through group chat. I get to keep in touch more with friends whether near or far and in various communication channels. I really do not miss much of the outside world. (Well, except when my friends post beach photos in areas where COVID-19 cases are low, I get jealous. That is when I feel I am missing a lot. )

I was able to go out to dine only once so far. It was in this not-so-accessible area in the city. My cousin was driving me around while our dog was being groomed. Aside from us, there was a couple in a table behind this divider.

The cafe was practically empty which soothed my anxious heart. The people in the photo were waiting for their take out.

Social distancing guides are in place.

I can’t reach my cousin from across the table so good job, Roadtrip Cafe.

By August, my hardinera heart became a plantita. Hardinera is what I can myself when I grow vegetables while plantita is for what I call myself for taking care of ornamental plants. Between my aunt and I, there was an unwritten delineation of tasks. I take care of my vegetables while she takes care of her plants. For some reason, the algorithm always shows all plants on my social media feed. I love this huge caladiums I saw in my feed that I said I wanted to collect plants with pink and white leaves. (Photo is from @plantqueenloves on IG.)

My aunt gave me my first few plants and now I have a few in my collection given by friends. I hope I can grow the leaves as large as the ones from @plantqueenloves. ( I will write more about the challenges of being a plantita in future posts.)

I also spent my birthday in quarantine.

I celebrated it with my aunts and cousins.

Two people came for lunch and two for dinner. I just ordered food I saw on my feed. I don’t want to spend my birthday cooking. Honestly, this is how I want to celebrate my birthday (pandemic or not)- not stressing about entertaining people and worrying if they enjoyed the food. (I sound like the introvert that I am. I guess the pandemic intensified my aloofness.) Besides, life should be celebrated every day.

So what interests have I caught on this year? Drum roll please. K-drama! I remember watching three K-dramas (which was called Koreanovela then) in the mid 2000s. These were Lovers in Paris, Save the Last Dance for Me and Princess Hours. I also watch Descendants of the Sun a few years ago. I wondered why I never watched more after that. This year I watched Crash Landing on You, Kingdom, Encounter, Goblin and It’s Okay Not to be Okay. I am currently watching Reply 1988.

Let’s see how long I can continue my interest in K-drama.

Oh, I finally got myself a Netflix subscription. Uh-oh. Since I am no longer watching movies in the theater, the subscription is way cheaper than the movie tickets. I hope I am making the most out of the fees I paid. I hope I don’t get sucked into the Netflix blackhole and  hope to learn to opt out someday so that I can explore the world when it is safe.

So far, it is a different and interesting year. I am immensely grateful for the memories and the opportunities that came my way. I hope this pandemic will be over soon and I hope we all survive it.

How’s your 2020 so far?

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